2024 Howard County Changemakers Announced

2024 Howard County Changemakers Announced

Howard County entrepreneurs won $100,000 in grants during the 2024 Changemaker Challenge for their unique ideas to address community needs by closing gaps in resources and services in the county. The awards were announced at the Changemaker live event on May 7 at the Collective in Columbia.

The Community Foundation of Howard County, Horizon Foundation, United Way of Central Maryland and Women’s Giving Circle all partner to host the Changemaker Challenge, a bi-annual event since 2017. It’s a competition to highlight and award social innovation in Central Maryland.

Emmanuel Simms (Eudaimonia Project) and Nayanie Henriquez (Sacral Roots) were the big winners amongst the finalists, each taking home $25,000 grants to launch their projects. More information on each of the 11 finalists and their big ideas can be found below.

Howard County finalists included:

  • Ballet After Dark, presented by Tyde-Courtney Edwards. Periodt!,  peer fellowship program covering reproductive and menstrual health education for Black and brown girls.
  • Bright Minds Foundation, presented by Danielle DuPuis. Reimagining the Rainbow: Strengthening Community Through Visible and Transparent Support to celebrate, educate and include topics of interest inclusive of the LGBTQIA+ community. The  yearlong hybrid speaker series is run by Howard County Public School System high school students, in partnership with local community groups.
  • Community Ecology Institute, presented by Justin Chen and Erika Chavarria. The Farming for Food Security initiative improves food security in Howard County by creating a collaborative team of local farms, food assistance programs and youth community members to distribute fresh and nutritious food to those in need.
  • Eudaimonia Project presented by Emmanuel Simms. The Eudaimonia Project is a mental wellness initiative that aims to bridge the gap for people who have trouble paying for mental health services.
  • HoCo Pride, presented by Abby Hendricks, Alisha Tronetti and Christy Hefty. A program for LGBTQIA+ individuals to share and spread their voice through images.
  • Irie Cooking Adventure, presented by Michelle Beadle Holder. An initiative that brings joy to home cooking with a Caribbean-American version of the Mediterranean Diet.
  • Luminus Network for New Americans, presented by Gabriel Moreno and Lucia Reyna. Seeks to empower up to 10 young, undocumented immigrant girls or non-binary people in Howard County high schools seeking to pursue studies in STEM through comprehensive immigration representation and mentorship.
  • NonFudgery, presented by Jesse FitzGibbon. An organization that aims to become Howard County’s premiere tech-focused nonprofit, empowering educators and youth to excel in an AI-driven future.
  • Sacral Roots presented by Nayanie Henriquez, 34, of Laurel. Henriquez envisions a doula service focused on making maternal mental health services during childbirth accessible to under-served communities.
  • Sobar, Inc., presented by Beth Harbinson. A program to help bars, entertainment venues and restaurants create a profitable, safe, adult non-alcoholic beverage program that will reduce alcohol consumption and provide options for people in recovery.
  • Women’s Art Therapy Support Group, presented by Sara Murphy and Heidi Diliberto. A monthly art therapy support group for women to create art and community in a therapeutic environment.

The judges selected the Community Ecology Institute and Luminus Network for New Americans as the winners of $15,000 grants and Ballet After Dark as the winner of the $10,000 Women’s Giving Circle grant. Audience members voted for Bright Minds as the winner of the $10,000 Audience Choice grant.